Olivier Giroud is likely to hold on to his spot in the starting lineup ahead of Gonzalo Higuain, when Chelsea face off against Everton on Sunday.

Chelsea will travel north to Goodison Park this weekend as they gear up to take on Marco Silva’s Everton, with an eye on closing down the gap to the top four. Fresh off the back of a 5-0 trouncing of Dynamo Kyiv in the UEFA Europa League, the Blues will be aiming to level up with fourth-placed Arsenal, who have a three-point lead over them.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri rotated his troops heavily for the midweek assignment against Dynamo, but should field his strongest lineup against the Toffees, meaning there will be quite a few changes in the team on Sunday.

No alterations are expected between the sticks, however, with Kepa Arrizabalaga expected to start. The defence, though, will see some tweaks this weekend, starting with Cesar Azpilicueta, who will replace Davide Zappacosta at right-back.

Sarri has opted to switch between Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri at left-back for alternate matches, but after the former’s performance in the midweek, he should hold on to his spot in the side. At the heart of the Chelsea defence, David Luiz is expected to partner Antonio Rudiger, with Andreas Christensen dropping out to the bench.

Chelsea’s midfield too, is likely to see some changes on Sunday, with Italian international Jorginho returning to the lineup in place of Mateo Kovacic, who started as the deepest of the three midfielders against Dynamo Kyiv. N’Golo Kante should, however, continue to feature from kick-off once again for the Blues.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek had an excellent game during the week and Sarri was full of praise for the Englishman in his pre-match press conference. “He played a very good match [against Dynamo Kiev] and I am really very happy because he was able to play for 90 minutes. That’s very important for him,” the Italian said.

However, having played the full ninety minutes on Thursday night, the Chelsea academy graduate is set to drop out of the lineup, making way for Ross Barkley, who will be returning to Goodison Park for the first time after leaving Everton for Chelsea in January last year.

Eden Hazard wasn’t involved against Dynamo Kyiv and should be reinstated to the starting XI on Sunday, while Pedro too, is in line for a return to the lineup. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Willian will make way.

Gonzalo Higuain did not travel to Ukraine in the midweek with an illness. But, Sarri said that the Argentine should be okay to play against Everton, although hinting that he might not be ready to start. “Higuain had a strong stomach ache with fever. It’s not a serious problem. I think he will be able to play, but I don’t know in what condition,” the manager said.

Olivier Giroud had a brilliant game against Dynamo Kyiv, as he scored three goals and bagged an assist. The Frenchman should once again spearhead the attack for Chelsea on Sunday, with Higuain still seemingly not fully fit.

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